All posts by Michael Hembree

Soap Nuts: A fruit that cleans your laundry and more

Soap Nuts are a FRUIT that will get your laundry clean. It’s TRUE! Soap Nuts are the fruit of a tree (Sapindus Mukorossi), found primarily in the Himalayas, and they are an EXCELLENT alternative to traditional laundry detergents. There are two main varieties: sapindus trifoliatus (The Small Soap Nut) and sapindus mukorossi (The Large Soap Nut). The Large Soap Berry is the most commonly used in cleaning, but both varieties are quite effective. How are soap nuts prepared for use in your wash? They are simply harvested then dried in the sun. They are 100%, totally natural. They are organically grown and are free of harsh chemicals, so they are incredibly gentle on clothes AND skin.They are especially great for those with sensitive skin—including babies and those that suffer from allergies, eczema, and psoriasis! They’re totally biodegradable, so they’re better for the environment than regular detergent,and they’re antimicrobial, so they’re even good for septic and gray water systems! Soapy substances called saponins are found in the outer shells of soap nuts. These saponins have the effect of soap when mixed with water. Each fruit of the soap nut tree contains one, two or three seeds and the fruit itself has a leathery texture and a yellowish or blackish color. They are used frequently, both medicinally and as detergents. If you hear any expert talking about renewable detergents, then it is soap nuts that they are referring to. These tiny fruits that grow on soap nut trees are actually very useful for many purposes.

The End Product Still Goes Down the Drain. Does That Hurt the Environment?

No. Soap nuts are antimicrobial. This means that they actually help in breaking down the gray water in your septic system. Also, you do not have to do a rinse cycle when you use them. This can save gallons of water every wash cycle. Don’t worry, though; if you forget to stop your machine before the rinse cycle they are just as effective. The amount of saponins left in the rinse cycle will just leave your clothes feeling soft. They are 100% environmentally safe.

Will They Clean Difficult Items?

Yes and No. They are one of the best soaps get rid of bad odors. Musty towels and wash cloths, even cloth diapers, come out smelling fresh and new. Stubborn stains, though, such as blood & red wine, require a stain remover to help the cleaning process. You can also use ½ cup lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to help brighten your white clothes.

What About Allergies to Soap?

Most allergic reactions to soap are due to added chemicals and fragrance. Soap Nuts grow on trees and are chemical free. This may help those with eczema and other skin problems because there are no chemical additives. Soap Nuts are 100% non-allergenic.

How do I use Soap Nuts in my Laundry?

For Natural Laundry Soap, you can use them in one of two ways:

  1. Toss 3 or 5 Nuts in a small muslin bag (provided with most orders) and throw it in with your laundry. (Make sure that you take them out before putting your clothes in the dryer). The nuts will do 4 or 5 loads, (use until they feel squishy).
  2. Heat 12–15 whole Soap Nuts in 1 gallon of water for 3 hours. Use a lid to cover pot. You do not want this to boil; bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to a low flame. Turn off heat; then let sit in the covered pot until cooled. Strain out the soap nuts. The liquid you have is now a concentrated, chemical free soap. The leftover shells can be placed in your compost. Use ¼ cup of this soap with each load of laundry. High efficiency washers will need less. This allows you to do approximately 30 loads of laundry. Also works great as a pre-treatment for stains.

Soap nuts are perfect for HE (high efficiency) and front load washers as they do not create many suds! Just remember to put whole soap nuts,in a cloth bag, in the drum of the machine. Soap nuts liquid can go in the detergent drawer.

Preserving your Soap nuts liquid.

FREEZING:

You can freeze the liquid in ice cube trays. Depending on the size of each cube, use 2 or 3 per load of laundry. If each cube holds about 1 Tbsp. Use 2 cubes.

PRESERVING:

Use clean quart jars. Place the equivalent of 7–10 soap nuts in each jar. (it’s better to use smaller soap nut pieces). Fill with boiling water but leave a ½ in. space at the top. Place the lid on securely. Then process (see below).

WATER BATH:

Place the jars in the boiling water. Make sure to cover the jars completely. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 30 minutes. Remove jar from boiling water and let cool.

PRESSURE COOKER:

Place the jars in the canner, and process according to manufacturer’s instructions for 15 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure.

Can Soap Nuts be used for More Than Just Laundry?

Yes. They can be used, in the liquid form, for cleaning just about anything.

DISHWASHER:

Fill the soap dispenser with the liquid. Make sure to scrape the dishes clean first. Add vinegar to the rinse dispenser and your dishes will sparkle.

ALL PURPOSE CLEANER:

Keep the liquid in a spray bottle and use to clean the bathroom, kitchen, floors etc. Add a few drops of essential oil to make different scents.

STEAM CLEANING SPOT TREATMENT:

Add 3 Tbsp.To 1 gallon hot water and use in a portable steam cleaner. Great for getting out urine smells and stains.

WINDOW & GLASS CLEANER:

Fill a spray bottle with 1 Tbsp. Vinegar and 1 Tbsp. Soap nuts liquid fill with water. Polish with a dry cloth or newspaper.

CLEANING JEWELRY:

Soak your jewelry in the liquid for a few minutes. Use a old soft toothbrush to gently remove debris. Rinse with clean water and polish with a dry cloth.

HAND WASHING SILKS and DELICATES:

Add 1 or 2 tsp. Soap nuts liquid or powder to warm water. Gently wash your delicates. Rinse with warm water and hang or lay flat to dry.

MOSQUITO REPELLENT:

Spray liquid on your hands and rub onto bare arms, legs or face. Safe and gentle to use for babies and children.

LIQUID HAND SOAP:

Fill a regular or foaming pump bottle with the liquid and use to wash your hands. It will not create tons of lather, but will clean hands well. Add a few drops essential oils to make a germ-killing soap.

SHAMPOO:

Use the liquid instead of your regular shampoo. Leave it on your scalp for 5–10 minutes, rinse as normal. Will not lather much, but cleans well.

FOR PETS:

Use the liquid to wash your pet’s fur. Will leave the fur soft and manageable. Also can be sprayed directly on pet to help repel mosquitoes.Soap nuts make an excellent natural laundry soap. Unlike the harsh detergents that are sold commercially by many manufacturers, these natural soaps are effective, as well as gentle. They do not contain bleaching agents. You can use them safely with white or colored clothes. Laundry done with them is chemical free. The laundry also comes out odorless. Can you believe that a product that grows on soap nut trees can actually be used to get your clothes clean? Fine wool,linen, silks, cotton, they work well on all. The next time you have a tubful of dirty clothes, just grab a bag of soap nuts. You will have freshly washed clothes free of harmful chemicals.

For medicinal purposes:

They are also used to relieve conditions like eczema and psoriasis. They do not contain any chemicals that irritate the skin. Soap nuts are frequently used by people with extremely sensitive skin. They have a unique anti-microbial property that helps kill germs and reduce skin problems. What’s more, soap nuts are also used as cleansers and in homemade shampoo to remove lice and for hair loss.

Soap Nuts are available in our store here.

Epsom Salt and Gardening

The information below was originally from SaltWorks. Their section on Gardening and Epsom Salt has been newly updated.  Click on the link to learn more.

Gardening and Epsom Salt

Epsom salt has become a popular and well-reputed supplement in organic gardening. It is an ideal answer to a variety of organic gardening needs. Both cost effective and gentle on your greenery; an affordable and green treatment for your well-tended plants–both indoors and out. Epsom Salt, magnesium sulfate, is one of the most economic and versatile salt-like substances in the world. It helps to create lush grass, full roses, and healthy, vibrant greenery. It has long been considered a gardener’s secret ingredient to create a dramatic impact. Epsom salt enhances the soil’s capabilities. Magnesium and sulfate are two minerals that are crucial to healthy plant life. It does not build up in the soil; it is safe to use often. Magnesium assists seed germination; helps strengthen the plant cell walls. It is crucial in photosynthesis and the creation of chlorophyll. It helps the plant to soak up phosphorus and nitrogen, which serve as vital fertilizer components for soil. Magnesium is believed to bring more flowers and fruit to plants, increasing the bounty and beauty of green space. Sulfate is equally important nutrient for plant life. It is essential to the health and longevity of plants; aides in the production of chlorophyll. It joins with the soil to make key nutrients more effective for plants, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It also works in conjunction with magnesium to nourish and bring health benefits for your garden.

Houseplants and Epsom Salt

Dissolve 2 Tablespoons per gallon of water. Use this solution once a month or as often as desired. It can clear up accumulations of natural salts in the pot leading to a revival in plant health. As a general rule, plants need plenty of indirect sunlight to fully utilize Epsom salt. Potted vegetable plants will produce more fruit or vegetables on a plant. This is particularly beneficial to apartment dwellers and those with little or no personal yard space. This creates a wonderful way to easily and effectively grow food.

New plantings and Epsom salt

Prep garden soil by sprinkling up to 1 cup of Epsom salt per 100 square feet (10’x10′). Work into the soil before seeding or planting. This helps seeds germinate better and start a strong and healthy growth. It is also very beneficial for plants because it aids in the transition and planting shock. Epsom salt is advised for use with all fruits, vegetable and herbs except sage. It is safe and effective at any stage of a plants growth. To use a tank sprayer: use 1 tablespoon per gallon of water. Spray on foliage or on soil early or late in the day, once per month. Tomatoes and Peppers are prone to magnesium deficiency later in the growing season. Plants with yellow leaves and less production are showing magnesium deficiency. One or two tablespoons of Epsom salts can be added to the planting hole to help this issue. Later in the growing season, it can be worked into the soil or the plant can be sprayed with the above sprayer solution. Flowering plants including roses blossom more vibrantly and beautifully with Epsom salt use. These two minerals are vital to all plants. Shrubs and trees can utilize Epsom salt also. Use 1 tablespoon per 9 feet of shrub or tree or root area. Work into the soil, then water. For the best results use Epsom salt 3 or 4 times per growing season. Lawns benefit in the same way from Epsom salt use. It helps prevent yellowing; and helps create a softer, greener, lusher lawn. Can be applied in a tank sprayer or apply pounds per 1250 sq. ft (25’x50′). Make a concentrate solution for tank sprayer. If applying dry, water very well to dissolve salt crystals.